The Buffalo News - Southern Suburbs

Former Bethlehem workers to picket

2/23/2004

Workers exposed to radiation at the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. plant in Lackawanna more than 50 years ago are going to Cleveland on Tuesday to stage an informational picket at the Northeast Regional Headquarters of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program.

A group of 25, which also will include survivors of radiation victims, plans to call attention to "the arbitrary, haphazard and mismanaged manner in which the administrators of the program have conducted themselves," said Frank Panasuk of Hamburg, spokesman for the 230-member Bethlehem Steel Radiation Victims and Survivors.

About 90 percent of the claims filed for radiation victims at Bethlehem Steel have been denied, Panasuk said.

Panasuk said that Peter Turcic, national director of the program in Washington, D.C., is expected to go to Cleveland to meet with the group.

The program, which has drawn many complaints, was established by Congress in 2000 to provide compensation for workers exposed to uranium who contracted cancer and survivors of those who had cancer-related deaths.

Panasuk noted that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is planning to introduce legislation to correct the program. Another bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Jack Quinn, R-Hamburg, Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, and Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

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